NASA just blasted another Toxic Toy to the Park. The Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer, LADEE (oh boy, another Scot names a vessel), launched from Virginia (what!) to crash another quarter-of-a-billion-dollar test car onto the wilderness of the moon (“the size of a small car”–can’t Consumer Reports do the same thing in Detroit?). Quite an expensive red, white and blue dust rag.
“The $280 million moon-orbiting mission will last six months and end with a suicide plunge into the moon for LADEE.” (SF Chronicle, Sept 8, 2013)
Now, folks, once again let me be clear: I think exploration is fantastic. I firmly support Science. AND, I think Good Science preserves wild areas, respects untouched lands and treads lightly into areas of mystery we might learn from. That’s Good Science. Bad Science blasts, batters and bumbles into an unexplored region without thought for the longterm consequences. In other words, Bad Science (and this always means Bad Scientists) is by its very nature not to concerned to be self-reflective or to intelligently consider Nature much at all. Read the History. . .read the stories of “exploration” and the impact on Native populations, on species, on the land, on the future of one place or another. We have a fairly lousy track record here. Something to learn from. Yet. . .we don’t.
With the Moon Wilderness the challenge is, once again, to ask the right questions: WHO is this for? WHAT will the result be? IS IT WISE to crash more TOXIC TOYS into the Yosemite of Space, the Orbiting International Park that orbits Earth? I’m intrigued by investigating “laser communication” but LADEE will learn and then, “end with a suicide plunge.” Let’s choose not to end Good Science the same way. Or Good Conservation.